Wes wheels into the fray

WES Sulzberger is hoping to keep the family name on the Tour de Taiwan trophy after brother Bernard was unable to defend his title.

An infected tooth could not stop the elder sibling claiming a silver medal at last week's Oceania road championships, but subsequent treatment has denied the 30-year-old a chance to return to the UCI 2.1 event beginning this Sunday in Taipei City.

However, having claimed the overall victory for the last two consecutive years - with Rhys Pollock in 2012 - Drapac has named Wes alongside Robbie Hucker, Ben Johnson, Malcolm Rudolph and Wouter Wippert, and the 27-year-old former WorldTour rider would love to continue a family tradition.

``It would be nice if I could repeat his win, just a bit of a name change, that would be really satisfying,'' Wes said.

``I'm feeling like I'm in pretty good form at the moment so hopefully we can do something.

``The form's been building. I had a little bit of a break, not off the bike but with a few shorter rides and just enjoyed things a bit. 

``I feel that over the last couple of weeks, the training's coming along really well and at Oceanias I felt really good and had a bit of a dig in the windy conditions but Bernie was good enough to finish it off for me.''

The Tour de Taiwan marks the first of several forays into Asia for the Australian ProContinental outfit and directeur sportif Henk Vogels believes that the team has the riders to win.

``Generally in races like this, there will be one day where a breakaway will stick and you'll gain some time. That, paired with some of the harder finishes, are going to be very important for the overall,'' he said.

``For us really, we're going to be going for stage wins. The overall is also very important but we'll just play it day-by-day and be aggressive like we have all year.''

Wippert claimed the team's first stage victories of the season at the New Zealand Classic in January and will once again team up with Rudolph for the two sprint stages which bookend the five-day race.

The Tour de Taiwan begins Sunday and concludes Thursday, March 14.

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